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17 Jan 2009
Stowe VT's von Trapps and the Sound of Music

Johannes von Trapp is handing over management of the famous Stowe VT lodge to his son Sam.

Fortunately, finding Vermont travel topics is easy. Unfortunately, there are so many of them that I can't get to them all.

I have a stack of Vermont information so large, I think I could write several hours a day and never exhaust the ever-growing list. As a result, items linger and I have to weed them out as they become less timely. This blog entry is about just one of those items.

A few weeks ago on Christmas eve, the New York Times ran an article about the real von Trapp family of Stowe. Nearly everyone in this country has heard of them and probably seen the movie. And judging by the number of guests at our inn, many people are big fans of the movie even though it is now about 40 years old.

But, as the article explains, there is quite a difference between the fictional family of the movie and the real von Trapps. The story is based on real people and real events but it takes quite a few liberties with the story.

The Trapp family lodge in Stowe is a very large facility now and does not have the quaintness that some visitors are expecting. However, it is a beautiful place in a magnificent setting with great views. There is an excellent cross country facility there (the only one around here that makes it own snow), they have sleigh rides in the winter, and in the summer the meadows are used for outdoor concerts. It is worth a visit if you are in the area.

Sam von Trapp, grandson of the famous Maria, is now taking over from his father Johannes. Even though he is far removed from the original story, the article makes it clear that he understands the family's appeal to many fans.

If you have not visited Stowe yet, you may be surprised to see that there are a number of lodging facilities and homes there that have Austrian architecture. Even our inn, the Grunberg Haus is built in Tyrolean style and we are about ten miles from Stowe. The von Trapps were not the only Austrians attracted to the mountains here. And people from other mountainous countries such as Sweden and Switzerland found their way here as well.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  20:41 | permalink

15 Jan 2009
Learn Outdoor Nordic Skating in Vermont

Nordic skating at Lake Morey VT

Nordic skating is a very old style of Scandinavian outdoor ice skating that many people find is an easy way to learn.

In fact, classes are taught here in Vermont at Lake Morey in the east central part of the state near the border with New Hampshire.

The classes go over selecting the right equipment for each individual, safety, types of ice surfaces, how to use a Nordic skating pole to test the strength of the ice, efficient skating technique, etc. Registration can be done online or by calling (802) 649-3939.

There is a fee of $25 for three hours of instruction, plus equipment rentals.

The website says that Nordic skates are "remarkably simple to learn on" and that Nordic skating poles make the skating easier for people without good balance.

The workshops will be taught January 17 and 18; January 24 and 25; and January 31 and February 1 at Lake Morey. On February 7 there will be an afternoon workshop on City Bay, Lake Champlain.

The longer blade on nordic skates is one of the reasons they help make it easier to learn ice skating

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Events , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  20:56 | permalink

13 Jan 2009
Sportsman's Classic This Weekend

The Benoits, a family of famous Vermont deer hunters who lead guided hunts and have published books and video on how to hunt deer, will be at the Sportsman's Classic. The father, Larry, (pictured above holding the rifle) lives about a half mile down the road from our inn.

One of Vermont's largest events, the Sportsman's Classic, takes place this coming weekend at the Champlain Expo facility in Essex Junction near Burlington.

About 15,000 people will fill the halls to view displays about hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. The event starts at noon on Friday and ends Sunday afternoon.

For the children, there will be a reptile show, trout pond, casting competition, archery shoot, pellet gun shoot, and shooting simulator .

For adults, there is a fly casting pond, 45 free seminars, free ATV demo rides on a one mile course, prizes, raffles, and giveaways.

A portion of the proceeds benefits Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a special Vermont camp for children with cancer. Last year the show raised an amazing $10,000 for the camp.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
posted by  grunhaus at  20:10 | permalink

13 Jan 2009
Stowe Winter Carnival Jan 19 - 25

Stowe Winter Carnival Snowshoe Trek

Stowe VT celebrates its 35th Winter Carnival with the theme this year of "Stowe Away Your Blues."

Visitors and locals can spend a few days setting aside the economic travails of these times and enjoy some inexpensive fun.

There are ten major activities planned for both adults and kids including an ice carving competition, snow volleyball tournament, snow golf tournament at the local country club, youth hockey tournament, super G race, movies, kids carnival, the popular main street block party, theater, dance, fireworks.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
posted by  grunhaus at  19:06 | permalink

11 Jan 2009
Waterbury Area Restaurants Reviewed in NY Times

Big Time NY Times Wanders Into the Backwoods To See What the Woodchucks Are Eating These Days

Mark Bittman, a writer for the Dining section of the NY Times Dining, must spend a good amount of time around the Waterbury VT area - he certainly knows the restaurants here, a couple of them off the beaten path for most visitors and even some locals.

As his December 28, 2008 review shows, he is very impressed with Hen of the Wood restaurant, a quality restaurant that was opened by a pair of chefs here in Waterbury about four years ago if memory serves.

One of the chef's mother stayed with us while the two young men were working to get their new place prepared for opening so we got an early insight into what kind of place they were aiming to establish in a highly competitive market.

As you can see by the newspaper's headline reference to "Backwoods" Vermont, many people come here expecting to be nearly on the edge of civilization, lucky to have a decent diner and maybe a couple of good potluck church dinners.

The fact of the matter is that there about 100 two and three star quality restaurants within a half hour's drive of where I am sitting now. Stowe alone has more than 50 quality restaurants and ranks third in New England for the number of two and three star restaurants (behind Boston and Providence). I've lived here nearly nine years and I'm still working my way through all the restaurants here.

Four quick items about Hen of the Wood that come up most often when I'm speaking to guests about it:

Yes, this is the restaurant with the chef (Eric Warnstedt) mentioned in Food and Wine Magazine as one of the Top 10 New Chefs in the US for 2008.

No, I don't know what they mean by "new." He ain't new - he has been a chef for years.

Hen of the Wood is a type of edible mushroom.

Yes, reservations are almost always needed. The restaurant is small and highly popular.

The other restaurant Mr. Bittman looks at is the Kitchen Table in nearby Richmond VT. It is very close to Exit 11 off I-89 a few minutes south of Burlington.

Like all of the best restaurants in Vermont, the Kitchen Table puts a great emphasis for getting as much of the ingredients locally as they possibly can. This is far more time consuming and expensive than buying from a restaurant supply house but it pays off for the customers in a superior dining experience.

Somehow, Mr. Bittman found the Green Cup quietly located on a small side street in little ole Waitsfield VT. What I thought was a local secret showed up on the radar of a New York restaurant reviewer. I guess that's why they get their jobs - they know how to find the best food no matter where it is. One note on this place - don't expect a fancy schmanchy atmosphere. The food is the only star here.

The Red Hen Bakery was located about a 1/4 mile down the road from our inn until they moved a little over a year ago to a larger facility where they now have a nice cafe. Their bread is served in all or nearly all the best restaurants around these parts. You can get it in some of the local grocery stores and delis too.

I suggest you read over this article - it's very well done and makes for interesting reading and insights into the local culinary scene but it just scratches the surface of what's available here.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  19:07 | permalink

10 Jan 2009
A Brew Pub That Serves Tea - How Vermont!

I was poking around some of my links a while back and discovered on the Alchemist Brew Pub blog that they are now serving tea.

Specifically, it's Kombucha tea, a sweet tea that originated in China centuries ago and is alleged to have some medicinal qualities.

According to the Alchemist blog, Kombucha is "fermented black tea that is loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and many different pro-biotic cultures." Whether or not that is good for you is up to you to decide.

The Alchemist Brew Pub opened about five years ago and was an immediate hit. We have had guests from all over the country tell us that a friend or relative recommended it to them as a "must see."

It is easy to find in downtown Waterbury VT. That link will take you to a Google map page that has another link to 20 reviews of the Alchemist.

They have very good food there by the way. They actually have a chef who prepares a short but wonderful menu. The portions are small but so are the prices - about $10 for an entree.

Be prepared for a wait if you arrive there after 6:00 pm most of the time even during off season for tourists. During holiday and fall foliage time, it is virtually impossible to get in unless you get there at the 4:30 pm opening time.

Our inn is only about four miles away so anytime it is too crowded, I can wait a few days or a week to get in without much of a wait. But if you do have to wait, it is well worth it.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Advice , Food , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  20:05 | permalink

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